No writing today. Instead, I spent the day traveling over to Needles, CA to visit my Dad’s grave. Actually, he was my step-father, but in the words of Brad Paisley’s song – ‘He was the Dad he didn’t have to be.’ My mother married him when I was nine. Although he was not the type of man to hug and kiss his children to show his love for them, there was never a doubt that he did and that he was always the ‘go-to’ guy for any problem.
I only remember him hugging me once. I was in my late 20s and had two kids. It was Christmas Eve and we were watching my kids and my young brothers and sisters open their presents. I was standing in the hallway door watching the kids as they tore into their gifts. All of a sudden, I felt an arm around my shoulder. My Dad gave me a quick squeeze, then said, “I’m very proud of the woman you’ve become, Shari Ann.” It lasted only a moment, then he was off into the living room telling the kids to start cleaning up the wrapping paper and ribbons mess. But, that moment meant the world to me.
He passed away at age 69 from the big C. Way too young! Now, every year around the date of his birthday and during the Christmas holiday, I buy a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer and drive over to ‘chat’ with him. I pour some on his grave and take some sips myself as I tell him how much he is missed by me and all his kids/grandkids and that we hope he had been rewarded generously where ever he is now. I also put a quarter on the headstone. He loved to play Keno at the casinos, so I leave the quarter as start-up money should he find a Keno machine where ever he is.
Now, as I close out the day, I think of this quote from Shakespeare’s Hamlet. “He was a man, take him for all in all. I shall not look upon his like again.”